An international investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines claimed to have found “damming evidence” linking President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration to human rights abuses.
People’s organizations and civil society groups behind Investigate Ph called on the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, Sept. 13, to conduct a probe into the alleged violations in the Philippines.
Investigate Ph, an independent investigation on alleged abuses in the Philippines to substantiate the June 2020 report released by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCR), issued its final report on Monday.
The report examines alleged violations of the economic, social and cultural rights of the Filipino people, and the reported denial of the people’s rights to self-determination, development, and peace.
The report claims that it found that the Duterte administration “was deliberately violating these rights through its submission to US domination and neoliberal economic policies.”
There was no immediate reaction from the government on the group’s statement.
The launch of the report, which coincided with the opening of the 48th Regular Session of the UNHRC, was led by commissioners composed of parliamentarians, lawyers, religious leaders, and activists from across the world.
Rev. Dr. Chris Ferguson of the World Communion of Reformed Churches said the Duterte
administration’s “systematic attacks” against social activists and human rights defenders “should be condemned by the international community.”
“It is our moral responsibility to exhaust all means to put an end to such atrocious acts and help victims in their struggle for justice,” said the Protestant Church leader.
Lawyer Jeanne Mirer of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers said it is “imperative” that the UN Human Rights Council “heed the Filipino people’s call to conduct a probe on the rights violations under the Duterte administration.”
She cited the so-called “impunity and failure of domestic mechanisms to provide redress to victims and hold perpetrators accountable.”
The report notes that human rights violations in the Philippines have intensified since the release of the June 2020 OHCHR report.
It shows that there was a 50 to 76 percent increase in drug war killings per month during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
The report cites Duterte’s “whole-of-nation” approach to counterinsurgency led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which allegedly utilizes local and national institutions to wage attacks against human rights defenders, people’s organizations, and civil society.
The report notes that the abuses “have been worsened” by the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, “which has become a main instrument in the counterinsurgency program.”
“[It] is used to vilify activists and their organizations and to criminalize dissent,” adds the report.
The three reports by Investigate Ph examined over 50 cases of alleged human rights violations, including the massacres of nine Tumandok indigenous peoples on Dec. 30, 2020, and that of nine activists on March 7, 2021.
Investigate Ph began its investigation on human rights violations under the Duterte administration in December 2020 and released two previous reports in March and July this year.
“The conclusion of our investigation and the final outcome report exposes how domestic mechanisms fail victims,” notes the report’s executive summary.
In a statement, Investigate Ph said the report is based on testimonies and verified information from various resource persons, including Church leaders, leaders of people’s organizations, and former government officials.